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Animals 2018, 8(6), 90; https://doi.org/10.3390/ani8060090

Urban Sloths: Public Knowledge, Opinions, and Interactions

1
Department of Biological Sciences, Federal University of Viçosa, Viçosa 36570-900, Brazil
2
School of Environment and Life Sciences, University of Salford Manchester, Salford M5 4WT, UK
3
Institute of Humanities, Arts and Sciences (IHAC), Federal University of Southern Bahia, Itabuna 45613-204, Brazil
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 30 April 2018 / Revised: 28 May 2018 / Accepted: 7 June 2018 / Published: 8 June 2018
(This article belongs to the Section Wildlife)
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Simple Summary

Free-range sloths living in an urban environment are rare. In this study, opinions, attitudes, and interactions with a population of Bradypus variegatus were investigated through short, structured interviews and informal, opportunistic observations of people in the pubic square where the sloths live. A questionnaire was applied to people in the square where the sloths live. Opinions about population size differed greatly and younger people were concerned as to whether the square was an appropriate place for them. Some human-sloth interactions showed the consequences of a lack of biological knowledge. Sloths are strictly folivorous and are independent of human sources of food. Apparently, sloths are indifferent to humans. Despite the good intentions of people, there are many misconceptions about the behaviour and needs of sloths, which causes low wellbeing for the animals. These results demonstrate that actions in environmental education of the public could be beneficial for sloths.

Abstract

Free-range sloths living in an urban environment are rare. In this study, the opinions, attitudes, and interactions with a population of Bradypus variegatus were investigated through short, structured interviews of people in the pubic square where the sloths live, in addition to informal, opportunistic observations of human-sloth interactions. A questionnaire was applied to people in the square where the sloths reside, and informal, opportunistic observations of human-sloth interactions were made. 95% of respondents knew of the sloths’ existence in the square and 87.8% liked their presence. Opinions about population size differed greatly and younger people were concerned as to whether the square was an appropriate place for them. Some human-sloth interactions showed the consequences of a lack of biological knowledge. People initiated all sloth-human interactions. The fact that sloths are strictly folivorous has avoided interactions with humans and, consequently, mitigated any negative impacts of the human-animal interaction on their wellbeing. These results demonstrate that, while there is a harmonious relationship between people and sloths, actions in environmental education of the square’s public could be beneficial for the sloths. View Full-Text
Keywords: brown-throated sloth; human-animal interactions; questionnaire; urban wildlife; Bradypus variegatus brown-throated sloth; human-animal interactions; questionnaire; urban wildlife; Bradypus variegatus
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Pereira, K.F.; Young, R.J.; Boere, V.; Silva, I.O. Urban Sloths: Public Knowledge, Opinions, and Interactions. Animals 2018, 8, 90.

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